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Samuel Smith
Works at Smith and Team
Attended Newhouse @ SU
Lives in Seattle, WA
104 followers|10,813 views


As I slowly piece together a game that I have decided to build, the Door Problem becomes ever more relevant. The same problems are shared by #startups or any #entrepreneur and #freelancers alike.
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Samuel Smith

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The lifehack community used to be renegade. It was all "Sleep two hours every three hours for better productivity" and "Outsource your brain into your phone." Now it's shit like "How to peel a banana" and "Five new ways to enjoy coffee"
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Banner blindness becomes more of a problem every year for advertisers, but some creative agencies have found a cure.

Banner blindness, or a website reader’s subconscious decision to ignore banner ads featured on the page, is a problem for all Internet advertisers, but the revolt against banners isn’t “game over” for advertisers yet.

In fact, we’re just getting started.

If banner blindness is such a real problem, why do we still use display advertisement? The simple fact is that it works - banner ads still have between a $10 and $20 return for every $1 spent.

While this pales in comparison to search, averaging $25, and email marketing, averaging a whopping $46 ROI per $1, these are complementary, not competing channels. With advertising the sum is truly greater than the value of its parts. A banner ad that followers a user around the Web, reminding the user of the brand and their products, is likely to convert into a sale later, even if it’s not through the banner advertisement.

With this in mind, one can see immediately why the banner advertisement game has changed from its Web 1.0, “You May Have Won a Free Computer - Click Here,” standards.

For the last ten years, most advertisers have been using banners the wrong way. They rotate colors and styles of banners to help overcome banner blindness. They buy millions and millions of impressions in a futile hope that a few will convert. This will never again work in the display ad space.

Other strategies include changing the style and shape of banners. We’ve seen some success from this, namely, using a star or a circle instead of a square, and making the background layer transparent or white. We believe that a unique style draws users’ eyes.

Unfortunately, the success of these types of changes are limited, at best.

The only thing left to do is to treat banner advertisement like we would print advertisement. That means hoping to catch a user who knows about our product at a time when he or she is looking to make a purchase decision, and making our banners and advertising campaigns so eye-catching and unavoidably creative that the user can’t ignore them.

We must design stunning, award-winning advertising campaigns with engaging text, using humor and emotion, and offering a unique perspective on the product if we hope to win the war.

The key to solid advertising is the creative spark, that idea that sets your product apart from everyone else’s. Your customers most likely to convert have almost certainly researched several alternatives to your product, and they will see display advertisement from all of them simultaneously.

These recommendations apply to PPC in search engine marketing, as well. Ads can be optimized endlessly by moving your call to action to the first or second line, finding a new headline, or changing the keywords you use in the ad text, but initial ad testing should focus more on testing wildly varying creative ideas. Try a funny advertisement, then an emotional advertisement, then an ad that provides a solution. We take inspiration from creative sources like Ads Of The World and Creativity Online, archives of major advertising campaigns that have been developed by leading advertising firms.

The solution to poor advertising success has always been hiring better creative professionals, and this has never changed. The reason banners with poor creative still exist is because of the profit-generating engine that is the World Wide Web. There is plenty of money to be made on display advertisement, enough that even poor creative can capture some of it. To bring your sales to another level, the only solution is finding a campaign that is creatively on another level from the ones your competitors use.
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It's the age-old question. How do we answer it? It depends.
WHAT DO YOU THINK: Is poker a game of skill or a game of chance?
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This question, for me, is a no-brainer. There are games of luck (roulette) and games of skill (archery). Which camp is poker more likely to fall into? The answer could be both, or neither. The problem is: the question you're asking is wrong.

The right question is, "Why do you play poker?" If you play poker with WINNING MONEY as your primary goal, then you consider it a skill game. If you play for one of several other reasons, 1) to gamble 2) to blow off steam 3) to "dominate" a table 4) to think 5) to socialize, etc, then it's likely more similar to roulette for you. We talk about this topic AT LENGTH (here's a plug, but you'll actually learn a lot if you check it out!) in our book Start Winning and our Poker Hacking interactive lecture over at

So how does the REASON YOU PLAY POKER change whether it's a skill or a luck game? It's got to be objectively one or the other, doesn't it? Roulette is objectively luck. Archery is objectively skill; I expect that (unlike in poker) no one blindly fires arrows in a general direction in order to see what they hit. 

It's because of variance. The types of motivations for playing poker that rely on the short term make poker a game of luck. Things like "beating" another opponent are shortsighted and exist only in certain table states that will end in a finite period of time.

The motivation to WIN MONEY, however, relies on the long term, which makes poker a game of skill. Why? Because if we consider a player who has played tens of millions of hands over the course of his or her lifetime, then the daily ups and downs of the game simply wash out. Those wins or losses were no more or less important a year, ten years, or fifty years from the day they were played as what the player had for breakfast. At this scope, we're clearly discussing a game of skill; the luck element is an annoying mosquito that has to exist to make the game fun for all involved.

TL;DR: Poker's a game of skill if your primary motivation is to win money; a game of luck if your primary motivation is something else. No reason for playing poker is "wrong" and each player has the right to play with whatever motivation he wants, to treat it as either a luck or a skill game.
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Samuel Smith

The WaterCooler: Misc. Intercourse and Jibberjabber  - 
Malaysian Airlines Expands Investigation To Include General Scope Of Space, Time

‘Why Are We Even Here?’ Officials Probe

KUALA LUMPUR—Following a host of conflicting reports in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last Saturday, representatives from the Kuala Lumpur-based carrier acknowledged they had widened their investigation into the vanished Boeing 777 aircraft today to encompass not only the possibilities of mechanical failure, pilot error, terrorist activity, or a botched hijacking, but also the overarching scope of space, time, and humankind’s place in the universe.

The airline, now in its fifth day of searching for the passenger jet carrying 239 passengers and crew, has come under fire for its perceived mishandling of the investigation, whose confusing and contradictory reports has failed to provide definitive answers on everything from how long the missing plane remained aloft after losing contact with air traffic controllers, to whether the flight made a radical alteration in its heading, to the very dimensions of space-time and the nature of reality, and what exactly it is that brought us into existence and imbued us with this thing we call life.

Additionally, the airline confirmed it had expanded its active search area to include a several hundred-square-mile zone in the Indian Ocean as well as each of the seven or 22 additional spatial dimensions posited by string theory.

“We continue to do everything in our power and explore every possible lead--both Cartesian and phenomenological--to locate the aircraft as quickly as possible,” said Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who went on to say that authorities were still actively seeking tips from anyone claiming knowledge related either to the flight, or to the mechanisms by which consciousness arises, or to the question of why anything physical and finite exists instead of nothing at all. “At this stage, we can’t rule anything out: not crew interference with the transponders, not a catastrophic electrical failure, not the emergence of a complex topological feature of spacetime such as an Einstein-Rosen bridge that could have deposited the flight at any location in the universe or a different time period altogether, nothing.”

“Could a parallel universe have immediately swelled up from random cosmological fluctuation according to the multiverse theory and swallowed the flight into its folds, or could ice have built up on an airspeed sensor? Those are both options we are currently considering,” Rahman added. “Everything’s on the table. That is, insofar as anything exists at all, which we’re also looking into.”

Rahman assured the press and families of passengers that officials would not rest until they locate the plane, provided that sensory experience can be verified beyond the existence of one’s own mind. Malaysian authorities also cautioned that they were dealing with an unprecedented aviation mystery and that it could take months to ascertain the airliner’s exact fate as well as, for that matter, the fate of mankind itself, assuming a linear theory of spacetime in which the future is unknowable and objects travel in a forward trajectory which, authorities hasten to add, is not necessarily the case.

In addition, airline sources attempted to assuage an uneasy public by noting they had brought in top crash investigators from the Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Chinese governments, as well as U.S. Navy personnel, Boeing technicians, leading quantum physicists, theoretical cosmologists, metaphysicians, epistemologists, and determinist philosophers to help scour all conceivable and as yet inconceivable locations in which the plane might be located.

“The bottom line is that we have a sophisticated aircraft fresh off a safety inspection with no prior incident of malfunction, flying in good weather at a cruising altitude,” Rahman continued. “Why didn’t the pilot send a distress signal? Why aren’t we finding a debris path? What are we to make of the contradictory radar information? Where did the universe begin and can it be said to have a limit or an edge? What is mankind’s role in it? Is there a God? If so, what is God’s nature?”

“It’s too early to answers these questions right now, but I can assure you that Malaysia Airlines will get to the bottom of it,” Rahman added. “Our top people are on it right now.”
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Samuel Smith

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If television and radio were the mass communication tools of the last century, the Internet is the communication tool of the next.

That’s not to say that television and radio don’t have their place in advertising: they’re great for wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am ads that cost a fortune. It’s awfully simple to produce a TV spot, sign a contract with NBC, and pipe your advertisement into millions of homes across America. They’re a great way to earn millions of dollars. That is, if you have millions of dollars already.

The Internet is the great equalizer of mass media. It’s completely possible (and an entirely valid strategy) to develop an advertising campaign with no investment that matches the reach of television or radio.

In fact, that’s the entire goal of organic search engine optimization.
We’ll show you how, with some creative planning and a little sweat equity, you can reach millions of people through the Internet without shelling out millions of dollars for a television spot. This report discusses tactics we’re using every day to increase the visibility of brands.

Why is the new media advertising agency running circles around old-media advertising agencies in terms of reach and ROI? It’s simple – old agencies, try as they might to change, are often too entrenched in existing contracts with major clients who like safe, proven advertising. If you’re devoting your entire creative staff to pumping out average advertising for play-it-safe clients, and you’re earning a mint doing it, where’s the incentive to move into untested waters?

Meanwhile, new media advertising agencies are agile and proactive, offering services that old media agencies simply can’t.

For a new media agency, there’s nothing more fulfilling than reaching that 1 millionth Twitter follower or email list subscriber and finding a way to leverage those massive numbers for cheap, high-ROI advertising. To reach a million people via television or radio, you’re going to pay beaucoup bucks just for delivery of your ad. Creative costs are fixed for developing an advertising, just ten or twenty hours from your creative staff to develop a campaign idea, design, and copy for your ad. Altogether, it’s completely possible to develop the creative work for kind of campaign for under $1,000.

Whether that ad is delivered by television or the Internet, creative costs are fixed, but delivery of that campaign via television costs tens of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars. Meanwhile, posting a tweet is completely free.

It goes without saying that a return on the investment depends on two things: your income from the campaign and your expenses. Internet advertising, when done properly, significantly reduces the cost of the campaign without impacting the campaign’s income. Even though most campaigns don’t have the reach potential of advertising on the Super Bowl, we earn revenue a different way.

New media ad agencies focus on interactive advertising.

That’s because interacting with your audience, rather than simply trying to sell them something, has the potential to develop brand loyalty far better than anything in the history of advertising. When you talk directly to your audience, play with them, and develop a relationship with them, you keep them coming back to your website and products over and over. Eventually, when it comes time for them to buy, you’re where they go.

Interactive advertising comes in dozens of flavors.

Developing a community that interacts with you and each other, whether that’s through your blog or through social media, is a core component of interactivity. People love to discuss topics of interest, share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and work collaboratively to solve problems. But communities come in many flavors. You can even build a community that doesn’t interact with each other, just with you and their friends, like iGiveaway, a Twitter marketing firm. 

Want to see some magic? How do you turn an iPad into a new car?

At the core of Internet advertising is its potentially viral nature, the herd mentality in full swing. A campaign we implemented for the iOS marketing firm iGiveaway illustrates this viral potential when taken to its logical, extreme end. How does iGiveaway work? An app developer sponsors a giveaway of an iPod, iPad, or other consumer electronic. Anyone who retweets the sponsored tweet (linking to their product) is automatically entered into the giveaway contest.

The iGiveaway platform uses Twitter giveaways to reach 3,000,000+ Internet users.

Each tweet sent out by iGiveaway to their network of more than 600,000 Twitter followers gets retweeted an average of 3,000 times. That’s because they’ve got one of the most active networks of retweeters anywhere on Twitter, so anything they tweet goes viral right away. Each retweet reaches an average of 1,000 more people. That’s 3,000,000 individuals who see the product’s sponsorship.
And iGiveaway has developed websites to promote their giveaways, too.

With interactive advertising consulting provided by Smith and Team, iGiveaway has developed microsites that allow individuals to enter these iPod and iPad giveaways simply by authenticating the iGiveaway Twitter App and allowing it to access their Twitter account. Users can enter dozens of giveaways in seconds with just one click, retweeting and following the sponsor and increasing the visibility and virality of iGiveaway’s tweets instantly. That’s interactive advertising at the speed of light.
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I went to space because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. #EveOnline  
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I've been using Google Analytics for years, but I recently did a deep dive into the other alternatives available to see if something else might better suit my needs. Here are my findings.

I’ll be the first to extol the benefits of Google Analytics for beginners. It’s simple to set up, simple to configure, and offers a lot of options for analyzing and optimizing websites.

I do have some hangups about it, however. First, Google owns all of your data. They are giving you a service, and you are selling your data to them in return. Google Analytics is free-as-in-beer (gratis), not free-as-in-speech (libre).

They know about all the visitors you track, how they use your site, and what kind of success you’re having. Many people think this might even influence your SEO rankings; if your site is receiving less traffic than a competitor, Google knows it, and Google Analytics might be a reason for it.

One open-source alternative, Piwik, is a major competitor to Google. For one, you can import your Google Analytics data into Piwik, so you won’t lose your analytics history. Second, you own all of your own data, which is always better for you as a user. Otherwise, Piwik is almost an exact clone of Google Analytics.

For the record, I use Piwik on my own sites, particularly because of the privacy issue with Google Analytics.

Another interesting option is FoxMetrics, which offers an API you can use with PHP or other programming languages to actually customize your website based on your analytics. You can use FoxMetrics to track software installs, newsletter views, media consumption, or nearly any other action. Then, you can use the API to personalize your site based on these user metrics. An example is displaying a “subscribe” call-to-action for users who have read multiple pages, and removing it for users who have already subscribed. You might also want to display different ads to different types of consumption habits.

Kissmetrics is another option which focuses on drilling down into individual user behavior, helping you understand which visitors are your most valuable and why. This can help you determine whether or not visitors who find your site through one method (PPC, as opposed to SEO), are more valuable, so that you can focus more of your marketing budget to acquiring these higher budget consumers.

But even Kissmetrics is a far-cry from the holy grail of analytics, attribution modeling. Attribution modeling allows marketers to track the lifecycle of a user from the first time they find your site until the time you convert them to a customer.

What is attribution modeling, and why is it so important? Right now, most analytics platforms use “last-click modeling” to determine where to place the goal value of a conversion. For example, if a user finds your website through SEO, then later clicks on a Google AdWords remarketing ad, your analytics package will assign the full value of your goal to the remarketing ad, and none of the value to your organic channel.

This is a horribly ineffective way to use analytics, and it could lead you to make some very wrong decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget.

With attribution modeling, you can track a user’s overall interaction with your brand, whether that’s through organic traffic, pay-per-click ads, social media, RSS, viewing banner ads. Instead of assigning all the value of a conversion to the method they used to find your site last, each action they performed is given a small percentage of the total value of the conversion.

Right now, the only analytics platform that offers attribution modeling is Google Analytics Premium, a $150,000/year package. But that could all change soon. A number of startups have received funding with the goal of creating a web analytics package focused on attribution modeling. 

We’re going to keep our eyes peeled for the initial releases of these software packages and will keep you updated when these new companies begin to revolutionize the analytics industry.

In the example given above, SEO would receive 20% of the goal value for originating the user and the remarketing ad would receive 80% of the goal value, a much more representative view of how each traffic source contributed to the conversion.

Attribution modeling offers a more holistic view of how users interact with your brand. It allows you to properly value social media, RSS, and other supplementary traffic sources. Even if marketers intuitively know that social media is adding ROI to their company’s site, it’s difficult to quantify this ROI and even more difficult to explain to upper management why the company is spending so much on social media, which might look to be a losing prospect when using last-click modeling.

Some web analytics software packages offer a first-click model, as opposed to a last-click model. Though this has many of the same drawbacks as last-click attribution, it’s what we recommend clients use for the time being.
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Just used this on my Xbox One and now my ping is lower than ever.
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I consume culture, I think, I write. I coach poker and build video games. I solve problems and monetize solutions.
Change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently. I am an ultralight backpacker, a landscaper, an entrepreneur, a poker and chess champion, and a lover of languages.
  • Smith and Team
    Writer, 2007 - present
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Seattle, WA
Henderson, TX - Syracuse, NY
Contributor to
Building better mousetraps, except that the mice are people and the cheese is a free ringtone or something.
The story of a man once struck so hard in the groin that his nose started to bleed. A tale so skillfully told that it deserves preservation on the Internet for all of time. Contains an inexcusable amount of vulgarity and plagiarism.
Bragging rights
I'm the guy behind the 2012 Twinkies "bankruptcy" and comeback -- sorry if I scared you. I wrote one of the pioneering papers on using social sign-in to tailor display advertising. I've earned six figures at poker tables.
  • Newhouse @ SU
    M.A. Advertising, 2012 - 2013
  • Syracuse University
    B.A. Psychology, Philosophy, 2005 - 2008
Basic Information
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Friends, Dating, A relationship, Networking
Other names
Sage, Anaphora
Samuel Smith's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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